Monday, April 26, 2010

Lessons in Life and Eyeliner with the Little One, Part 1 of 2

No one ever prepares you for the mental elasticity you need to raise a child. There's the extent to which child rearing is physically grueling -- all the baby carrying, lifting, stroller-transferring -- but I've found that the most challenging aspect of being a parent is having to constantly evolve with them. I've always been a particular person who likes order. Sure, I'm definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of gal, who relishes the emotive and creative motivation. But the defining action pulling it all together for me is always the implementation of structure. And when you've got a kid, that ringleader position you held in your own fantastic circus? Well, let's just say, you're suddenly being outsmarted, outrun, and essentially, completely humbled by the smallest, and possibly the most fascinating person you may have met in recent history.

When my daughter A was born, I had incredible difficulty breast-feeding. I struggled with multiple infections, vascular spasms, and ended up only being able to pump, while still being in a lot of pain. I coped with the desire to provide my daughter breast milk as I simultaneously struggled with the logistical issues of pumping eight times a day, a throbbing chest, and all the other intensity that ensues in those first three months post-birth. I mention this because we've all been through one issue or another with our children, whether it's been with feeding, colic, sleeping, etc. While they are very young, every day is full of new hurdles, as well as new accomplishments. What keeps us going are those grin-breaking moments when our child sits up for the first time, takes her first walk in the park, or says something as simple as "uh-oh."

At nearly 21 months of age now, my daughter has entered her Terrible Twos. It began with language -- with the basic words like ball, dog, car, eat. Then, came her first, and really, only sentence to date: "I want ____." At 7:30 a.m., my alarm every morning is: "JUICE! I WANT JUICE!" Throughout the day, A's list of demands seemingly directs the course of our day. She may want to eat turkey, listen to a song, or (sigh) draw with chalk on her shirt and mine. It also could be as ambiguous as "I want THIS!" and I have no clue what "this" is. Her "this" could be as incomprehensible as wanting to spear her string beans from only a certain angle. And with only that one sentence at her grasp, meltdowns, even if they are short-lived, can be a-many. For a few weeks, I kept asking A: "What do you want?" I later realized that by asking her what she wanted I was only making things more difficult for both of us, as half the time, she's just having fun ordering me around. Furthermore, if she sees me getting flustered, my anxiety possibly fuels her frustration.

As I watched my daughter's personality develop over the last few months, and started to characterize her to others as "willful", I felt tested in a way I had never felt, even through the rigors of graduate school. I felt like my hands were tied because I myself was so strong-willed.  I discussed this with my good friend J, a mom of two sons, and she suggested a different approach: why not drop the thinking of it being a "battle of wills"? I hadn't realized up until that point that I had felt like I was in some sort of contest.

So I've been trying -- to be more flexible. I have to give my daughter a lot of credit for this. It's probably one of the biggest lessons I'm learning in life. I'm a perfectionist at heart, but as a parent you ride a wave that's got unexpected bends, jumps and sometimes you're totally blown off that wave and have to start from scratch,  paddling until you're on the wave again (to use a surfing analogy). When A and I are in the heat of the moment and she's screaming, I try my hardest to take a step back and just be, instead of reacting. It doesn't always work. Sometimes we end up both giggling and dancing, and then at other times she's thrown bubble solution in my eyes, I've got fried egg on my forearm, I'm frazzled and late to an appointment …

But at the end of the day, I look at my life, our life together. The reflection tells me I'm a little tired. My eye make-up may or may not be intact depending on the type of tumbles I've taken. But I'm ready for the next adventure. What does Mama need to learn next, little one?

-N.C.

Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on www.nuybeauty.com.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Bring on the Blush

This was Bare Face Week -- well, my version of it. I did my lightest, lightning-fast make-up to get out the door and to the playground, appointments, meetings, etc., in a flash. Truth be told, I've been working very hard these past months to retune and rebuild things in my life surrounding what happened to my family back in the fall. Having a child brings immense challenges into one's arena in terms of your marriage or relationship, and your general sense of the world starts being measured upon completely different standards -- there is a lot of adjustment, transition and evolving, which takes time. And time, which may have been precious before, becomes liquid, and you can't ever seem to have a enough of a grip on it. What this means for me and the mirror is two-minute make-up that takes me from beat-up looking to bright in a blink. And the simplest trick to the achieving that happy nod in the reflection is bringing on the blush.

Color on the cheek is youthful, pretty, and as easy as PB&J. Every morning this week, I threw on tinted moisturizer (a post coming up on T.M.s soon, so stay tuned!), filled in my brows, dabbed on blush and finished with a sheer lip color and mascara.  The last two, lips and mascara, may or may not have happened depending on the grade of the interruptions. If you can imagine, these were my two minutes between handling A's morning potty "situations", the babysitter arriving, and trying to field my over-eager daughter from distributing a week's worth of folded laundry all over the apartment floors.

Ever notice how your child's cheeks gently flush in the winter with the cold or sun? A's does, when I've forgotten (oops!) to apply her sunscreen, or need to reapply. That little bit of natural flush is exactly why blush can be so flattering. It symbolizes vitality and instantly sketches youth onto your face. A medium peach, or apricot shade is a good universal shade to consider when picking out a color.  And as a general rule, the deeper your skin tone is, the more pigment your face can handle showing off safely.


With a brush or your fingers, apply up, down, on, and around the apples.

When applying blush, you can use a blush brush (I use Shu Uemura's Natural Brush 20, $50, but another option is Kashuk Tools Blusher Brush, $18) and/ or your fingers -- simply use the third and fourth fingers of your writing hand simultaneously. If using a brush, gently sweep the brush up and down, in an elongated circular motion, along the apples of your cheeks/cheekbone a few times. With your fingers, do the same, making sure to use gentle pressure, up, down, on and around to get a nice, even flush. Blending, is always key. The color should never be a distinct dot. It should subtly dissipate, as it moves away from the apples in the sheerest way.


Blush everyday keeps the weary away.

Blush-ing 1-2-3:

1. To find the apples of your cheeks: Smile and hold in a mirror. See where the round areas of your cheeks rise to high points? Those are the precious apples where you will apply color.

2. Try a sheer, cream or liquid blush, as it has almost a no-brainer application, and is great for warmer weather. This Flower Child Natural Cheek Stain by Tarte ($30) is a great, all around color, and has the added benefit of antioxidants. There's also CoverGirl & Olay's Simply Ageless Sculpting Blush ($12), also with antioxidants and vitamins, which I like in Plush Peach and Lush Berry.

3. For traditional powder blushes, try Nars Blush in Deep Throat ($22) for a light touch of spring. To make a bit more impact for the night, add a touch of gold to the mix and try the Nars shade, Super Orgasm ($22).  You can also opt for Cover Girl's uber budget, but great Cheekers Blush ($4), which I recommend in Pretty Peach or Natural Rose.

For my readers:

Have a story to share about what you're going through in your life with your kids, family or relationship?

Or maybe you have a go-to item in your vanity that can take you from blah to almost beaming? I/we want to hear! Please write in and share.

-N.C.

Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on www.nuybeauty.com.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream for Sunscreen!

Sun is glorious. Sometimes I crave with great intensity, a trip home, so I can have the luxury of lying on a Hawaiian beach -- where the potent tropical rays will knockout any worry, ache, or perplexity. Even if you're having a great day, the sun makes things better. And let me tell you, people in Hawaii are extremely friendly and for the most part, quite happy. Can you guess why? Probably all that Vitamin D.  But on the flip side, the sun is also extremely damaging to your skin without protection. It prematurely ages you, causes wrinkles, age spots, and can lean to skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen everyday will ensure that you can have your cake and it too.

My mother has been applying sunscreen as soon as she rises, for about 37 years now. I, as well as many of her friends and relatives can vouch for the fact that she has no major wrinkles at 62 years of age. And she resides in sun-sensational Honolulu! So if you can't compel yourself to wear the sunscreen for health reasons, then maybe maintaining your younger looks for longer will motivate you.

I have to admit, I'd never been a big fan of sunscreens (in terms of daily usage) because of how heavy they've been in the past, but a few years ago I started to change my tune when I discovered Christine Chin's Solar Guard SPF 28 ($52). It goes on sheer, feels like a moisturizer and doesn't have that goop-y sunblock feel. And under make-up, it is weightless.

As for sharing sun protection on a daily basis with A, we've never totally succeeded. Body lotions, baby balms: yes. But, my sunscreen goes on before my makeup, and hers is carried around in her stroller or diaper bag, and her skin is even more sensitive than mine. So I stick with the California Baby SPF30+ Sunscreen for A. It took a lot of trial and error to find that one. Previous products that have now hit the trash, oozed and stained our clothes with orange and pink oils, but this one causes no reaction in her uber reactive skin.

I will recommend though, that for long plays on the beach or at the pool, you consider a Rash Guard shirt, which have built in UV protection. They are like the ones surfers wear, and A had this Roxy Girl one ($30) while she was with me in Hawaii. Add on top of that a UV treated, wide-brimmed sun-hat (here's A's by i Play, $10), and if you get distracted and forget to re-apply the sunblock, at least you've got some insurance!

Sunscreen 1-2-3:

The American Academy of Dermatology (ADA) recommends applying a broad spectrum (protecting against both UVA and UVB rays), water-resistant sunscreen, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 before exposure to the sun. I use the Christine Chin's Solar Guard SPF28 everyday as a moisturizer, but make sure to put on something with a higher SPF on days I know I'll be out getting some serious sun on with A. Here are some sheer, light to the touch, and quickly absorbing options for you to try:

1) Great under make-up: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid Daily Sunblock, SPF 70 ($13).

2) Convenience of a spray: Paula' Choice Ultra-Light Weightless Finish SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray ($8).

3) To finalize: a quick tip sheet from the ADA on being safe in the sun.


Special Note: Thanks to my good friends, L. and N. -- fellow parents of A's dear amigos who so kindly helped me test sunscreens this past week.


-N.C.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on www.nuybeauty.com.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eye Want Color!

Spring is all about change -- the scent of the air, the warmth, the empowering sunlight. And as the season's scenery changes, you can't help but have a sunnier outlook. New York City has been ripe with the bounty of brighter months ahead as winter's cold and shivering tail zigzagged and disappeared into a street corner. A and I celebrated this week, by going on a picnic with our dear friends, drawing our names and faces in our favorite park with chalk, and donning floral frocks and denim minis. To top off the cheerier weather, I also rolled out my eyeshadow palettes for some play. The thing about colored eye shadows is that if you don't overdo them, and keep it minimal, they're actually not as hard to pull off as you might think!

All it really takes is a few strokes, literally. Try a new color! Play around with eye shadows you may already have lying around, untouched in your vanity. Don't be afraid to try out that army green or navy blue from the beauty counter gift-bag.  Don't ever assume that a color doesn't work for you without trying it on first. You may be pleasantly surprised.


I am wearing Shu Uemura's Pressed Eye Shadow ME600 ($20)

Eye Shadow 1-2-3: 

Start with a clean face / clean lids. It's up to you whether or not you want to first line the eyes with some sort of liner. If it is part of your routine, then go for it. If not, don't worry about it. But, if you do line your eyes, stick with black, as it is the most neutral, and will go with whatever eye shadow color you choose.

1) Take an eyeshadow brush that has shorter, firm bristles, like my 5R Kolinsky by Shu Uemura ($58) or you can try Kashuk Tool's Small Eye Shadow Brush ($10), and dab a little bit of shadow on it. Don't get too much on the brush, and blow off any excess shadow before applying. Apply a very fine and thin layer of color at the lash line. And as you work from the inner to outer area of your lid with your brush in nice, steady, soft, strokes, start to fan out the color to widen slightly like a, narrow, sideways `V' toward your temples.

2) The trick to doing quick, risk-free colored eyeshadow, is to minimize the amount of color applied. You don't need a lot of color to make an impact. Keep the color close to the lash line, and refrain from painting big, crowd-stopping blocks of color between your eyes and brows. A little goes a long way. And by keeping the shadow on the light and slim side, it spares you room for error. Think of it as more like lining your eyes liberally with the shadow, rather than shading. And just stick to the top lid.

3) Finish with some mascara, blush and clear lip gloss.


-N.C.

Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on www.nuybeauty.com.